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Malaysian Food Blog, Travel, Diving & More

Category / Singapore

Arguably one of the biggest names in the food industry, Gordon Ramsay was in Singapore for SingTel’s HAWKER HEROES, and thanks to HungryGoWhere Malaysia (coming very soon, and I’m one of the contributors), Chris, WeiZhi, and I were fortunate enough to be invited to the event in Singapore.

Yes, we got to see Gordon Ramsay up close, and got a taste of his foods too.

crazy crowds at SingTel's HAWKER HEROES
crazy crowds at SingTel’s HAWKER HEROES

The challenge started with 10 short listed hawkers, and after public voting, three finalists were chosen to represent Singapore hawker foods and goes up against Ramsay. The poll gathered some 2.5 million votes online, so yah, it was a big deal.

The voted representatives were

  • Ryan Koh of 328 Katong Laksa (316,611 votes)
  • Ang Kiam Meng from Jumbo Seafood Restaurant (319,922 votes)
  • Foo Kui Lian from Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice (318,151 votes)

So it was laksa, Singapore chili crab, and chicken rice. Ramsay then visited the hawkers and spent 3 days learning how to cook these dishes before the challenge on Sunday night, 7/7/2013.

Gordon Ramsay and the hawkers from 328 Katong laksa, Jumbo Seafood, and Tian Tian chicken rice
Gordon Ramsay and the hawkers from 328 Katong laksa,
Jumbo Seafood, and Tian Tian chicken rice

The crowd was huge at Newton Food Court, we heard that there were some people who lined up for a food ticket (limited to 1000 servings) a day prior. Thank goodness for people from SingTel we got media passes. :D

The scene was pretty intense, loads and loads of people at the smallish venue. Chef Ramsay somehow managed to spent a few minutes meeting the people in the media area, but each time was perhaps a few minutes only. No such chance as taking a photo with, but we were super lucky and got something (more of that later)

the dishes, both from Ramsay and the hawkers
the dishes, both from Ramsay (top) and the hawkers (bottom)

The dishes were served in 6 plastic containers, understandable since they had to prepare 1000 portions. One side were the chili crab, laksa, and chicken rice from the hawkers, the other side were from Ramsay and his team after 3 days’ intense learning session.

I was pretty excited getting to taste something from him and see how it stack up against the best from Singapore.

Chris from PureGlutton, Wei Zhi of kampungboycitygal, and yours truly

Chris from PureGlutton, Wei Zhi of kampungboycitygal, and yours truly

My thought before the tasting was that the one ingredient that is most familiar for Gordon Ramsay is probably crabs, and hence Singapore Chili Crab would be his best bet, and in either case, the competition won’t end up in a clean sweep either way.

Here are my verdicts on the dishes after tasting them:

  • Chicken Rice – I really like how smooth Ramsay managed to make the chicken breast tastes, but the rice from Tian Tian was more moist and nicer, and as for chili sauce, Tian Tian’s version was clearly superior, Ramsay’s version tasted like it had too much vinegar. I chose Tian Tian over Ramsay but it was close.
  • Laksa – I tried Ramsay’s laksa and thought it was pretty good, and then I had a taste of 328 Katong’s and it turned out even better! Though both dishes had similarly well executed ingredients (prawns, fish paste etc), the soup from 328 was that much better. More sour and had a better kick than the more lemak version from Ramsay’s camp.
  • Chili Crab – Again, the crab itself were both excellent. As for the sauce, Jumbo’s version was very familiar – sweet & slightly spicy, and chunky with eggs. Ramsay’s version was a lot more spicy and had a more curry kinda taste to it, I actually liked it, but thought this could go either way.

these aren't the real chefs I think, with Hanis & Shing from HungryGoWhere Malaysia
these aren’t the real chefs I think, with Hanis & Shing from HungryGoWhere Malaysia

After tasting, we spent the next hour hanging out at the nearby community centre while waiting for the result. It does take quite a bit of time to feed 1000 people.

Then the results came in.

It was 2-1, Tian Tian & 328 Katong Laksa can now claim that they are better than Gordon Ramsay, while the chef managed to edge out Jumbo Seafood’s chili crab. I really can’t argue with the result and thought it was rather fair (from more than 5,000 votes).

Perhaps surprising to some, but Gordon Ramsay took it very well and applaud the food scene from the area. He also talked about how tough it was to learn the tricks of the trade in such a short time. Check out the shaky video I managed to take above.

I thought it was a pretty impressive feat.

Florence, Sally, Chris, WeiZhi, KY, Linda & kids
Florence, Sally, Chris, WeiZhi, KY, Linda & kids

Oh, by the way, though I didn’t have a photo with Gordon Ramsay, Chris, Wei Zhi, and I did manage to get an autograph from Gordon Ramsay, and it’s on my KYspeaks name card too! During the time he came over to the tent I think only four people managed to get his autograph, so we were extremely lucky.

my name card, signed by Gordon Ramsay!
my name card, signed by Gordon Ramsay!

Most awesome trip indeed, and stay tuned to Hungry Go Where Malaysia version!

Several weeks ago we headed to Singapore for a little one night escapade to catch a concert (thanks Michelle for hosting for the night!), and that was right after a short weekend diving trip at Tioman (will write later). It was our first “proper” concert – Snow Patrol.

Le Bistrot du Sommelier, Singapore
Le Bistrot du Sommelier, Singapore

We arrived at the venue of concert, Fort Canning, a couple hours ahead of time, and hungry. Since we somehow managed to secure a free parking space right outside the entrance (this is Singapore, it was like striking lottery), we were content to just walk around and find something that resembles dinner.

That’s how we ended up outside Le Bistrot du Sommelier, a pretty classy looking restaurant with loads of wine glasses on the  tables by the side, alfresco style.

red wine braised beef cheeks with carrots and mushrooms, parley potatos
red wine braised beef cheeks with carrots and mushrooms, parley potatos

At this point we can’t be arsed to walk anymore, we asked for a table and got one outdoor since it’s fully booked indoor. Guess it’s a pretty popular place.

A look in the menu convinced us that prices are good if you’re earning Singapore dollars, but a bit of a stretch of us Malaysians. We ended up ordering two specials on the chalk board, after our very informative and super helpful waiter with a French accent did his best in explaining what they are. Our server’s name was not Jacques, it was Faizal.

Very impressive, Faizal.

beef tenderloin tartare served with french fries
beef tenderloin tartare served with french fries

I ordered red wine braised beef cheeks with carrots and mushrooms, parley potatos (SGD $30). It came in a little clay pot with the potato on the side. The beef was properly braised you could cut it with a dull spoon, the stock had a strong aroma of red wine and carrot so soft old toothless lady could eat it without any denture. It was marvelous.

I also particularly like how they prepare the potato, with small chunks of sea salt sprinkled atop, so instead of a uniform taste, you get a tiny burst of saltiness now and then, worked well.

the dishes were delightful

the dishes were delightful

Haze too was very happy with her beef tenderloin tartare and french fries (SGD $32). The beef was beautifully prepared, and tasted equally awesome. It was juicy, raw, and came in a very generous portion as well. French fries tasted just like any French fries, this being a French restaurant didn’t make it any different.

KY & Haze at Singapore, just before Snow Patrol concert
KY & Haze at Sg., just before Snow Patrol concert. I already looked stoned from all the driving

We were well satisfied with the food at Le Bistrot du Sommelier, the only thing better was the service from our waiter, a splendid experience, and certainly will return to try out some of their other stuff (this time will bring a bigger wallet I guess).

Later I found out this place is one of Michelle’s favorite restaurants as well, no surprises there. :D

map to Le Bistrot du Sommelier

Address:
Le Bistrot du Sommelier
53, Armenian Street,
Singapore 179940
GPS: 1.294807, 103.849445
Tel: +65-6333 1982
Web: lebistrotdusommelier.com 

and it was an awesome concert, Snow Patrol rocked hard
it was an awesome concert, Snow Patrol rocked hard, again I looked a bit stoned

Snow Patrol’s concert was way awesome as well. Gary Lightbody really knows how to connect to the crowd, I wished the show was a little longer than the 18 song set list. Fort Canning is an excellent venue for concerts as well, the stage was set up at the bottom of a slope so you get an unblocked view to the stage as long as the person ahead of you isn’t a head taller.

Among countries in South East Asia, Singapore is perhaps the only country that Malaysians often argue with when it comes to origin of food as well as who has the best of certain dishes. Truth is, while a lot of famous “Singaporean dishes” probably originated from Malaysia, our southern neighbors do have quite a lot of original food worth sampling.

teow chew pork noodle at Ponggol Nasi Lemak Centre, Singapore
Teow Chew pork noodle – pork ball, meat, and liver

The day after the first ever Nuffnang Awards, instead of following the tour, we decided to head to Ponggol Nasi Lemak Center at Upper Serangoon Street to try the pork noodle for brunch. According to Cheng Leong, this is the absolute must have whenever he comes to Singapore.

Though being in one of the only two professions that can legally lie, we trust Cheng Leong the lawyer when it comes to food.

Singapore Teow Chew Pork Noodle
Ponggol Nasi Lemak Centre

Ponggol Nasi Lemak Centre is just a short walk from NE13 Kovan station. The smallish hawker center houses over half a dozen stalls with at least a few operating around the clock. We ordered from AMK House of Teochew Noodles that operates 24 hours a day.

The stall offers a few dishes, but everyone ended up ordering the same dried version of Teow Chew pork noodle for $3 a bowl.

teow chew pork noodle, haze, KY, FA, Gareth, Kim, Cheng Leong
Haze, KY, FA, Gareth, Kim, and Cheng Leong

The dish is basically similar to wantan noodle but with a healthy dosage of pork meat, a few pork balls, liver (if you prefer), mushroom, some vegetables, and plenty of deep fried shallots in a vinegar based sauce with a bowl of soup at the side and some red chili padi as condiment.

Even with a heavy dose of skepticism at first, the pork noodle turned out to be really nice. It’s a combination of taste that I never really had before, and I really liked the sauce that works not unlike the experience you get from having xiao long bao with vinegar. It was very tasty.

ponggol nasi lemak center map

If you’re around Singapore, this would be a decent place to eat. I’ve read that the nasi lemak is pretty good too.

Address:
Ponggol Nasi Lemak Centre
965 Upper Serangoon Rd,
Singapore, 534721,Singapore
GPS: 1.361822,103.886611
Tel: 6281 0020

The must-have applications on BB 8520

For those who just bought their Blackberry 8520 from Xpax and are new to Blackberry, here’s a few applications that I consider a must have. These are the software I advised every BB users to install, and they are all free (as in free beer type of free)

1. UberTwitter
This is of course, a must have for anyone with a twitter account. Twitterberry might have a cooler name, but UberTwitter absolutely pawns in terms of functionality and user friendliness. It supports basically everything twitter has to offer, including picture upload, geo tagging (with cell towers or GPS), RT, reply all, DM, etc etc.

2. Opera Mini
While the Blackberry built in browser is pretty decent, Opera Mini offers a much better user interface in web surfing. The browser also goes through a proxy that compresses and reduced image size for faster downloading. Other than that, the wealth of short cut keys make web browsing a much simpler affair with less fiddling on the trackpad/trackball

3. BBM version 5.0
The BBM version 4.6 that comes with Blackberry 8520 is perfectly usable, but the upgraded version offers a better user interface, ability to add display picture, and also the very interesting Blackberry Group that allows calendar, task, and file sharing capabilities.

4. Google Apps
Google Map, Gmail, Google Latitute, Google News, Google Readers and more are available for your BB 8520.

5. Blackberry App World
For everything else, there’s the Blackberry App World.

I remember buying a compilation cassette sometimes back in 1996, it had a brown cover with the title “Alternative Rock” smeared across in red. This was the cassette that introduced me to songs like Girl from Mars by Ash, You Oughta Know by Alanis Morissette , and Good by Better than Ezra.

But the one song from the compilation that made the biggest impression was Oasis’s Wonderwall. It was a song that struck everything in the right cord, with lyrics that Brandon Flowers of The Killers can only dream of writing. From then on I picked up songs like Don’t Look Back in Anger and Champaign Supernova, and Oasis became an integral part of my play list.

Oasis Live in Singapore!
Our tickets to rock!

So when Gareth told me about Oasis coming to Singapore for a concert a few weeks ago, I replied “Lets make it happen!” without thinking twice.

For rock concerts, I never settle for anything less than the grand stand tickets. We managed to con Kim & Horny to each also fork up $98 SGD for a ticket (to fill up a car, you know, save money!) to the concert even though Horny didn’t actually know who is Liam or Noel. Amanda was a late addition to the road trip cos she was just too crazy over Oasis; plus, her relatively small size means that she fits in the center of the backseats.

chicken rice balls at melaka
chicken rice balls were yummy!

So last Sunday we departed from KL just before noon and decided to get our lunch (without any breakfast/brunch) at of Melaka, which also make a nice half way rest stop for the long journey.

We had an over fulfilling meal of chicken rice balls at Hoe Kee, and then stuffed ourselves with a bowl of cendol at Jonker88.

Which was all nice and dandy until we drove by this pohpiah stall and had to just cry in agony cos we were too full to even have a bite. Very tragic!

non halal subway
Subway with pork ham and pork bacon!

By the time we hit the road again it was around 2:30pm, we needed to collect tickets by 7pm for the 8pm concert. We thought we had plenty of time.

We didn’t factor in the stupidly inconsiderate drivers at Johor. It seems like the only way to overtake is via the left lane. The kiasu factor of those drivers really got into our nerves.

Alas, we got to the immigration at around 6pm, and forgot to bring along any immigration cards… So we had to go to the immigration office and witness the inefficiencies that infect even the Singaporean officers. It was a long an excruciating 45-minute (I had to call to make sure we could redeem our tickets past 7pm) process before we got out of there.

Oasis Live in Singapore!
we were at the front with the crowd, and Liam being a badass

With the help of Gareth’s little portable Garmin GPS unit, we finally arrived at the Singapore National Stadium at 7:30 or so. Got our tickets and went to Subway for some pork sandwich goodness. By the time we got into the hall it was around 8:15.

Then Oasis came out and it was completely awesome!

Oasis Live in Singapore!
pic taken without any zooming, that’s how close we were!

While the other two old men hang out at the side, Kim, Amanda and I made our way to the front of the crowd and managed to get ourselves about 4-5 rows back from the stage. The atmosphere was electric, and the crowd was crazy. Lotsa squeezing and pushing but generally everyone was just having blast.

At one particular point a dude with mohawk started dancing like a maniac and hit a lot of ppl within 2 feet of him. A burly dude grabbed his body and I sorta helped flip his legs up, and the dude got body surfed all the way to the back. We high five-ed :D


Wonderwall!

With the last bit of GPS juice (car charger died) we managed to find our way back to the Johor border after the concert. By the time we got back to KL it was more than 3am already. We stayed in Singapore for a total of less than 5 hours. My shortest trip yet.

Next trip would be Melbourne to see Mell for a week. Can’t wait!

Check out Horny, Kim, and Gareth‘s account of the tour.

Last weekend I went to Singapore for the 2nd time in a month, and instead of being on a mission to do Malaysia proud like the last one, this trip is all about having fun. I went to the V-Post Nuffnang Christmas Bash thanks to the invitation from Nuffnang. Chartered bus, hotel room at Marriot, party with a bunch of bloggers from both sides fo the straits, all expense paid. What more can I ask for?

The costume party has a pretty, er.. unique theme. We’re each assigned a letter V, P, O, S, or T and are supposed to dress up as something corresponding to the letter. For example, in the picture below you see Jolyn as Tape mesure / Tailor, Vivien as Student, and Ginni as Playboy Bunny. I was the Potong Stim Pirate with very minimal effort spent in fixing up my so called costume.

V-Post Nuffnang Party at Singapore

Jolyn, Vivien, and Ginni in the taxi on the way to the party

The other traveling bloggers include Suan as a Trekker, Huai Bin as Osama (who changed his letter to P, as I shall explain later), FA as the Shopaholic, Eiling the Vampire, Cindy as Venus, Audrey the Virgin Bride, and Ninie as probably another Vampire.

V-Post Nuffnang Party at Singapore

party people at the place to be

The party was hosted at DXO, which was quite a distance (in Singaporean term) from the hotel. Now one thing about this city-state I can do without is the 2,500 traffic lights you have to go through to get anywhere.

Outside the club Nuffies such as Tim, Nicholas, Pinky, Firdy, Yee Hou, Robb, and Ming were already waiting. Curiously, I also met Mike Yip, who seems to appear in every event regardless of location or organizer. Kenny was lurking around as an old man as well.

V-Post Nuffnang Party at Singapore

myself and Jolyn, the old man who’s hairy and bald at the same time

The whole place was rather packed with people and with the MC, Randall, running the show. There were several games and prizes to be won, and I walked away with an Osim pace counter after being the first one to name all the Nuffies in order of their letter to spell out the word NUFFNANG.

Audrey won the best costume with Cindy as runner up, and Mike Yip got a pair of tickets to Manila as the first prize in lucky draw too. I guess we didn’t do too bad at all.

While the party was pretty eventful, I thought it’ll be nicer if we were given more actual party time to dance and shake what our mamas gave us. However, there were only myself and a few other fellow Malaysians doing that during the limited party time given.

V-Post Nuffnang Party at Singapore

Audrey sleeping like an apek, and Huai Bin missing out the party

Overall it was still a very fun trip, we managed to catch up with a few buddies and met quite a few new friends at the same time. In the last picture collage you can see how Audrey doesn’t sleep like a Virgin Bride, and the only picture I snapped at the party, of Huai Bin missing out 75% of the event. So Huai Bin’s P stands for PASSED OUT

Next up would of course, be the fifth installment of  X’mas Eve Party at home! See you!